Friday, 25 June 2010


I would like to answer some important life questions. Firstly, why does losing and rejection feel so bad, and how do you carry on after the hundredth rejection? Is there such a thing as a rejection too far and why should we try for the 101st time? By the time I have finished, you will hopefully have a better understanding of yourself, the world you live in and the strength to carry on.

Firstly, what is it about rejection and losing that makes it feel so bad? The short answer is evolution! You have been programmed by evolution to hate rejection and to avoid losing at all costs. Unfortunately this instinct is in modern civilisation completely redundant, useless and distinctly unhelpful. If you do not learn to understand it and override it, it will completely ruin your life, as does to many on a regular basis. The good news is that it can relatively easily be overridden and even reversed! You can actually use rejection to strengthen you!

Let’s begin by understanding why this hatred of rejection evolved. It’s Cameroon 170,000 years ago, or in evolutionary terms about five minutes ago. You are the last of as low as possibly 100 breeding pairs left alive of the genus homo, the apes who walk on two legs. All your relatives except homo neanderthalis up in the frozen north have been wiped out by famine. You live in one of a few scattered tribes eking a living on the African Savannah. You stand on the very brink of extinction.

But it’s no coincidence that you are one of those last few hundred survivors. You have survived through a combination of extreme intelligence and handy instincts. You’re a greedy beggar, you’re bone idle and you’re very fond of bonking. This means you are determined to get as much of the finer things in life for as little effort as possible and whenever you’re in a good mood, and the environment is favourable, you’ll be doing the wild thing. This means that in bad times they’ll be enough people smart enough left to survive, and in good times the population will rapidly recover because when you’re in a good mood, you can’t resist a bonk. Besides, the X-Factor hasn’t been invented yet!.

But there’s another instinct equally important – the tribal instinct. You have the urge to clump together in distinct groups, because it is only as a team that you will be able to hunt and gather enough food protect the children and get suitable shelter. The environment is too harsh to enable you to survive alone. It is absolutely essential that you belong to a tribe, that is the bare minimum survival requirement.

But you don’t just want to be in the tribe, you want to get as high up in the hierarchy of the tribe as you can, ideally to become the alpha male and the alpha female, because they will get the pick of the food and the shelter, so in the hard times, the higher up the pecking order you are, the less expendable you are. But you have to be careful, because if you’re too ruthless, the tribe will throw you out, because then you’re a threat to everyone else, and if you get thrown out, you die! You can’t survive alone! But if you’re too soft, if you let everyone walk over you, you will be at the bottom of the pecking order, so when food’s short, who misses out first. Yep, you’re a gonner in this instance as well!

So how as a man do you rise through the ranks? You prove your worth! You kill the most antelope, you build the best house, you make your rivals look bad, you run the fastest. And so on. If you’re a female, you can’t compete with all this, because you’re evolved to have the babies, so you need a different body to a man, so the only way you can get to be alpha female is to get the alpha male’s attention, but you have also to be crafty. If you’re ruthless, all the other females will cast you out, so you have to be attractive without being slutty, bitchy but subtly bitchy, and you’ve got to at least look fertile.

Now most of the time, you’re too busy to think about all this, because you’re permanently knackered, so instinct does it all automatically for you. All this means that only the best of the best have survived. And so this goes on for quite a while. Roll the clock forward to 14,000 years ago. The last ice age ends. The climate dramatically improves, there’s much more water, which means more food and much more room.

This means much more bonking time, and many more survivors, and so the population explodes! Now we get migration and civilisation and the rest is quite literally history. So now we don’t have to worry about food, at least here in the West, or worry about belonging to the tribe, or rising through the ranks. But guess what? Your genes and evolution doesn’t know that! Your instincts don’t do logic, they’re evolved to override logic, so if you submit to the default programming, you are going to be an unhappy and unsuccessful and maladjusted individual.

The reason rejection feels so bad is because it is tapping into that primordial fear instinct. That fear factor which kept our ancestors alive is now making us unnecessarily unhappy and miserable. You can see it especially in young children. Say no to a two year old, take something off them, and they’ll act like their world’s come to an end! This is because their primordial instincts are telling them it is!

What’s worse is that generally on the African Savannah you only get rejected a few times in your life, then you will either die, or be accepted elsewhere. But in modern life you can be rejected over and over and over again, and we are not evolved to cope with that sort of prolonged anguish. Your instinct to belong is now clashing with your instinct to avoid pain. For this reason, life can seem like a choice between the agony of loneliness and unworthiness and the agony of continual competition and rejection.

But fortunately, you are not doomed! You can use another evolved mechanism to override your instincts, and it is the ability to focus. Your body does not react to what’s there, it reacts to what has your attention! If what’s in front of you is stimulating or threatening, yes you’ll react to it, but most of the time it’s neither, so you will react to what you are thinking. Your body does not take it’s cue from your environment, it takes its cue from your mind.

You’re on your own in the library, reading one Catherine Cookson’s bodice rippers. There’s nothing in front of you but printed symbols on a piece of paper, but when you read the bit where the local squire, dashing, fit and handsome, stares powerfully into the heroine’s wild eyes, and gently runs a finger across her heaving bosom, some of you may find your body responding in a manner highly inappropriate for being in the library.

Your body and your behaviour does not respond to the environment, it responds to what’s in your head. That is very handy indeed if you want to stop letting your mind run wild in stone age default mode and start practising the ancient discipline of mindfulness, the practice of deliberately focusing your attention on something, rather than letting it wander wherever it likes, which is usually back to the Stone Age.

In business and in the pursuit of success generally, rejection is a fact of life. Rejection no longer means death, but if the rejection has your attention, it will feel like death, because that is how you are genetically wired to respond to rejection. The difference between successful people and the unsuccessful is not how often they were rejected but what they were focused on. Whatever has your attention has your life. Whatever you are focused on grows in strength and power.

You have been rejected – give it your attention, focus fully on the fact that you were rejected, and what will grow? Fear, anger and despair, and the longer you focus on it, the stronger and the stronger fear anger and despair get, and keep going long enough and that’s all you will be. And all through life you will come across such people, broken, bitter and twisted.

But the successful are not focused on the rejection. Their mind goes straight for the lesson! “hmm, I didn’t get it, what do I still need”? For them, it’s a clue in a hunt! Every rejection is another piece of the jigsaw. In fact so is every hurt of every kind. They are tapping in to a different instinct equally as powerful as fear – the hunting instinct. Successful people will often tell you, it’s not the kill, it’s the thrill of the chase. There is no thrill in a conquered fortress, a solved puzzle or a completed creation. The point of the journey is not the destination, it’s the road! When life runs out of destinations, it runs out of meaning!

My friends, the only thing that gives life flavour is the ability to create something. It is not what we create so much as the sheer joy of the act of creation itself. The secret of success and happiness is not submission to a discipline, so much as devotion to a cause. The majority of people out there do not grasp this great truth. Their minds are stuck in Stone Age default mode, valuing their self-worth by comparing themselves to others, and simply reacting to their circumstances, rather than proactively changing them. It is the latter who take rejection the most badly. It is the visionaries who are the most rejection resistant.

Those who have been worn down by continual rejection are focused on their self-worth, their perceived value to the tribe. The visionaries are not giving the rejection their attention. For them it’s a hunt. Imagine having a dream where you faced ten thousand doors. Behind 9,999 of them is rubbish, but behind one is wealth beyond your wildest dreams. Can I suggest that in that scenario you would keep opening the doors, because you knew that sooner or later, the door with the wealth behind it would be in front of you. In the same way, real life visionaries persist because they know that one door just one door has behind it the big break, and that’s the only one they need. They know that all they have to do is keep banging on doors and one will open. My friends, that golden door is there.

This is a quote from someone who depends on cold-calling to make a living; If you're in cold calling, you need to focus on "Door 101." What is "Door 101?" Well, it's the 101st. door you knock on --- the 101st. phone call you make --- the 101st. presentation you make. The fact is "most" people will say NO to a cold call. But if you keep knocking, calling, presenting, even after 100 people tell you NO --- just keep going ---- If you can't handle NO, you're in the wrong business. Personally, I have fun with it. I record my cold calls to come back later and listen to what I could have done different and to use for training with my people. So you see, visionaries are not focused on the rejection at all their attention is on the 101st door and the lessons in the “no’s”

Now there are a few people who for whatever reason, this all comes naturally. There are many who will choose to be unworthy, who will point to all the evidence they claim proves that they are doomed. They will not let anyone be so rude as to suggest otherwise. And there are some brave souls who start out as victims, both genuine and imagined, who one day get so sick of being victims that they decide that they are tired of all this doom, and they want to learn to think a different way. It is my destiny and an immense honour and privilege that some of these souls end up at my door, and I provide those people with the keys to the power that lies right inside them.

If you are one of those who have been worn down by rejection but don’t want it to break you, hopefully by what you have heard so far, you now have some understanding of how you got to this point, and I would like to help you to begin the process of changing your mindset.

What makes us happy or sad, ill or poorly is not what’s out there, because what’s out there is in fact everything. Every feeling or experience you can think of is already out there, everything from the heights of joy and ecstacy to the depths of the most unspeakable evil. Look hard enough and you can find either and everything inbetween. What determines how we are feeling is what has our attention.

Now your attention is exactly like breathing. You can just let your attention wander about of its own accord, or you can consciously control it. The difference is that whilst your breathing is quite good and finding the ideal level by itself, your attention is not. Most people’s attention defaults to the negative. We’re like a radio that comes with presets, and most of us are preset to radio doom. Why, because in the African Savannah where you evolved that kept you alive. It stopped you being eaten and bitten, but in modern civilisation this is a distinctly unhelpful default, because there’s doom on tap 24/7.

But the visionary has re-tuned his attention manually. The visionary is locked on like a ballistic missile to the target, not doom, not all the things that might go wrong, not the obstacles and certainly not all the rejection other than the lesson. The rejection and the failures and the mistakes become fuel for the missile, making it tougher, smarter, wiser. It is not aptitude that determines altitude, it’s attitude. It’s the way you react to your circumstances, and the way you react is determined by your attention, and who determines where you attention is? You do!

If you have been battered by life, if you have been worn down by failure after failure and one rejection to many, the first thing that must change is not method but where your attention is, and at first this is hard work. You see the dial on your tuner can be on doom for so long, it’s a bit resistant when you try to turn it, or some people are a bit clueless at first how to re-tune away from the doom and failure and rejection onto the target, the lessons and the 101st door.

To re-tune your attention, there are certain exercises and disciplines that you must perform, which means a change in what you are doing. Of course this puts a lot of people off straight away. They want to be different without doing anything different. But this is how it is: If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got! So you must choose. Are you sick enough of feeling awful that you are ready to change?

To begin this process of change, you will need to invest in a nice new quality notebook, no ASDA smart price cheapo rubbish, a posh quality notebook, and on page one of your new super posh quality notebook, you will write very neatly in very large letters: MY POSITIVE THINKING BOOK. On page two you will write ten things you experience regularly that are nice, and if any of these things are somewhat embarrassing, that’s O.K. because only you will ever read this book! Write them down anyway!

Having written down your ten things, I want you to think about them. In fact why not think about them right now, as if they were happening right now. Visualise them right now in vivid detail, and as you are doing that, right at this moment, your brain is responding like they’re happening right here right now. You see your mind does not respond to what’s there, it responds to your attention. If right now you are focused on something nice, and you feel gratitude for those things, your brain is flooding with dopamine and serotonin, and your body with endorphins, and the electrical signals in your nervous system are changing pathways, which changes your behaviour, and that affects everyone else around you as well!

Now every day, your notebook should be your constant companion, and every time something good happens, you see something nice you feel something nice, experience anything nice, you will write that down, and give it your full attention! And as you persist, you are in every sense changing.

But that is only task one!

Task two. Every time you are waiting for something, in a queue, in a traffic jam, outside the bathroom, I want you to imagine a thousand doors, and behind one of those doors is wealth beyond your wildest dreams. You don’t know which one it is, but it is definitely one of ‘em! You open the first door, and behind it is a pile of horse manure, but it occurs to you that you are one door nearer, and you start frantically opening doors like there’s no tomorrow, and each one has got the same unpleasant pile, and you start to wonder if there’s a system that might speed things up, and you think there might, but whether you get one or not will not change the inevitable fact that eventually short time or long, you will find the door with the wonga behind it. Feel the excitement the anticipation of finding that one door, the only one that matters.

Task three is for those who find it hard to focus their attention because negative things are screaming at them really loudly! Go learn how to relax! Learn meditation, learn T’ai Chi, go Boxercise, whatever, but go do it because the only way to stop the negatives screaming is to learn how to calm the mind. Give me a call, I’ll soon chill you out!

It is only with a calm mind that you can then really take full control of your attention and focus it where you want it to be, so that it is no longer defaulting to the misery of the hundredth rejection but is rather focused on the ladder of success on which this latest rejection is simply another lesson making you even wiser and stronger and another rung on the ladder to where you want to be.